Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Helping our residents stay connected and fighting loneliness in a village setting

When it comes to mental wellness and wellbeing, connecting and engaging with others is one of the most important things we can do.

As we get older, our social connections change.

We may lose friends and life partners, or be less physically able to attend activities in person.

The result?

Some individuals choose to remove themselves from situations where they engage with others.

There are many reasons someone might do this – it could be as simple not wanting to feel like a burden.

But the problem is it’s not healthy.

Retirement villages are normally great locations to facilitate the kind of social engagement we as individuals need to drive positive health and wellness outcomes.

But what about our residents who have become isolated and less connected?

What can we do, in our roles as village professionals?

It’s an important thing to be mindful of, especially amid the onset of COVID-19 which has increased the risk of older people feeling more isolated and less connected.

Facilitating positive change in your village

This is why we want to draw your attention to Connected AU, recommended by Gerard Mansour, Commissioner for Senior Victorians, in a recent LinkedIn article.

Connected AU has two key offerings, that can be great for residents:

  • The Letterbox Project – handwritten letters are sent from volunteers around the country to people experiencing isolation and loneliness.
  • Virtual Hobby Groups – Providing connection and engagement to people anywhere.

It’s relatively easy to set up, but it can drive serious positive outcomes in your village.

Just think of a resident who could benefit and then check out the Connected AU website here.

The easy of helping your resident will just fall into place.

A little bit of effort goes a long, long way

In our experience, when a resident is feeling lonely it’s the little things that count.

Something as simple as stopping to say hello when you see them in the village can really make their day. We’ve also seen great success with Facebook pages and messenger groups set up to engage residents on the tech-savvy side of things.

Here are a few extra ideas you might want to look into:

  • Be Connected – offers simple guides for older people to learn about technology and online safety. Learn more here
  • Community Visitor Scheme – residents may be eligible to access the CVS who arrange volunteer visits to older people. 
  • Local Government – contact them for information about clubs, activities and community events in your region.
Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

The Retirement Living ‘Code of Conduct’ turns one, plus a useful tool to help your village stay compliant in 2021

The Retirement Living Code of Conduct celebrated its first birthday last week. 

The new code for retirement villages was developed by the Property Council and LASA to give customers confidence in village management and operations.

Ben Myers from the Property Council said they’ve been thrilled to see almost 50 per cent of retirement villages participate and sign on.

This is despite obvious external pressure from COVID.

You’ve got to say it’s a real win for the sector.

“This year we will be increasing awareness of the Code to grow the number of subscribers,” Ben says.

“We have set an ambitious target of 75 per cent take up in the industry. This would seriously demonstrate the industry’s commitment to residents and to robust self-regulation.”

We here at the DCM Institute strongly support the Code of Conduct industry framework, and believe it supports best practice village operation, staff retention and resident satisfaction.

This is why we’ve provided plenty of info in our village manager professional development program to supply knowledge, guidance and resources to fast-track compliance with the code.

Keep an eye out for a new tool to be released in our 2021 program.

The Code of Conduct Gap Analysis tool can be used in conjunction with the Code Implementation plan. These resources help operators progress in their compliance of the code in2021.

You can find out more about our professional development program, and how it will help keep your village compliant here.

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Get ready – changes to NSW retirement village regulation are just around the corner

More regulation changes are on the cards, this time for retirement village operators in NSW.

On the 23 December 2020 the NSW Department for Fair Trading notified retirement living operators that there would be a raft of new compliance requirements to fulfill in 2021. 

One of the biggest changes comes in regards to asset management.

From 1 July 2021, operators are expected to maintain an Asset Management Plan (AMP) for the village’s main capital items.

This plan must be available to current and prospective residents, and include:

  • Costs associated with maintaining and replacing items of capital.
  • Reasons for decreases or increases in costs.
  • How often costs are incurred and the expected lifespans of items.
  • Maintenance and replacement requirements of items of capital.

Back in December the Department said, “To allow time for operators to prepare the asset management plans and fully comply with this requirement, penalty provisions for non-compliance will not commence until the second half of 2021”.

This week our colleagues over at Thomson Greer shared updated information, which says from 1 September 2021, village operators in NSW are expected to:

  • Prepare in consultation with the residents, an AMP including prescribed content every 10 years in relation to each village they manage;
  • Include into the AMP an asset register being a list of the major items of capital and their prescribed information (Asset Register);
  • If capital maintenance is included into the proposed annual village budget, include into the proposed budget a 3-year report relating to capital maintenance for major items of capital that is extracted from the AMP current for the corresponding period;
  • Update the AMP within 28 days of the annual budget being approved, if the 3-year report included into the approved annual budget differs from the AMP;
  • Update the AMP within 7 days of the purchase of a major item of capital.

This is important. If a major item of capital is not in the asset register, funding for its capital maintenance from the capital works fund or recurrent charges are not authorised.

Concurrently with the New Regulations, the Department of Customer Services has issued Secretary’s Guidelines for Retirement Villages AMPs, including a recommended template to follow when developing an AMP.

I managed to track down the gazette information which showcased the likely template sample and guidelines for the AMP’s in Appendix 1 & 2, pages 19-21. You can view the information here

For those operators keen to commence planning for this activity it may be a great resource to start helping you plan for developing your AMP.

Alternatively, engaging the services of a Quantity Surveyor would also be an option to consider for time poor village professionals.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments Things to watch

Join us at the LEADERS SUMMIT in your city – March 18 – 19

You’re cordially invited to join the DCM Institute at the LEADERS SUMMIT. Hosted by our sister company DCM Group, the LEADERS SUMMIT brings together 40 leading CEOs across five cities, live.

The key is to understand the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care, and the next steps for your business.

The impact for retirement living operators will be big, as the Commissioners are expected to promote a new model of living based on the current village setup.

In a COVID-safe setting, experience premium networking with your colleagues including our famous hatted restaurant dinners, full sit-down lunches and barista coffee breaks live in every city.

We’re going to be there, and we hope to see you there too.

The future of retirement living and aged care. It’s important.

Remember spots are strictly limited, so click this link to register now.

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Five Good Friends offers great new service – regular home support guidance sessions in your village – supporting you and sales

Last week I was lucky enough to spend some time with Sam Carson, the Commercial Manager of Five Good Friends, a peer-to-peer home support service that has spread across the country.

The great thing about Five Good Friends is that it was co founded about five years ago by Tim Russell, who created RetireAustralia and is a real leader in the village sector. They understand our ‘business’.

I was excited to learn about the new offering they have for retirement village operators who want a care service solution for residents, without the burden of being the Care Provider. And they want a sales aid to show potential customers that there is a care path.

The new service is called the Village Concierge.

Essentially, this service offers operators a regular visit by a skilled guide to the home care world who can have confidential discussions on your residents needs and guide them to the best solutions.

The service means the same person comes back to the village each week and can monitor progress and advise adjustments as required.

Some villages have chosen to frame it as a Village Nurse Concierge or refer to it as a Village Wellness Coordinator.

The key thing is it takes the burden of care off you as a manager or operator, while still providing support to residents that need it. 

It works great in a retirement village setting, and the operator decides how long the concierge is present in the village and the kind of services they put forward. 

It’s a great investment in your future planning too, offering support and guidance through simple preventative health measures and assisting in the access of appropriate home support. 

The outcome – residents with a happier, fulfilling life. 

The role of the Concierge weaves naturally into the fabric of the village as a trusted care advisor to residents. And often, what you’ll see is this relationship grows with time.

Personally I think it’s money well spent supporting residents, expanding your service offering and supporting sales.

If you are interested in learning more about the kind of services Five Good Friends can provide in village settings, I strongly encourage you to contact Sam Carson on 0409 384 990. 

Key things to help you everyday

Eight steps to good, fair decision-making

The role of a Village Professional can at times feel like walking a tightrope.

In the broadest terms, the basic role of a village manager is to deliver, or facilitate the services promised under the operator’s contract to residents living within their community. Gosh, if only it was that easy!

In reality, every day Village Professionals are balancing residents needs and expectations against legislative and contractual agreements, sometimes in the absence of clear parameters.

And as a result, Village Professionals often find themselves in positions where they have to make decisions – and big ones. 

In my experience, the Village Professionals who make the best decisions generally follow eight steps, which you can use as a guide. 

Here are eight questions to ask yourself before your next big decision.

  1. Is the answer in the legislation?
  2. Is the answer in the contract/residence agreement?
  3. Is there an organisational policy/position guideline around this matter?
  4. What will be the impact on the operations/budget?
  5. What will be the impact on the resident or other residents?
  6. Does this decision require further consultation with others?
  7. Common sense – does it pass the ‘pub test’?
  8. Does it fit in with the values of the organisation?
    (Be careful not to bias with your personal values here.)

When these steps aren’t bearing fruit, you may also consider:

  • Whether you may need to gather some further information; and/or,
  • Are there alternative positions/solutions?

One of the most important lessons in my career, after working on and in more than 200 villages, has been to make sure that my decisions are thoughtful.

I’m constantly asking whether I’ve followed due process, considered all angles, being transparent and can explain the why of my decision.

As a side note, I have also learnt sometimes my decisions may need to be reviewed or amended. Having the ability to revisit a decision (even if it eventually comes out the same) shows respect, and your residents will certainly appreciate it.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

Have you heard about COTA’s Aged Care System Navigator?​

COTA Australia provides advocacy, information and services to all older Australia to promote, improve and protect the wellbeing of older people in our country.​

One of its recent initiatives is the Aged Care Navigator Service Trial.

This includes:

  • Assistance to contact My Aged Care
  • Help to fill out forms
  • Community workshops and information sessions 

Led by COTA Australia, the trial is designed to test different services and activities that may help people learn more about Australian Government-funded aged care services and how to best access them.

COTA has partnered with 30 organisations as part of the pilot and is evaluating 64 different Navigator trials across the country.

It’s a valuable resource for Village Professionals and your residents, and it’s available to older people, their families, friends and anyone else who wants to link with aged care supports.

For more information on the program and to share with your residents, click here.

Key things to help you everyday

Microsoft Teams – An easy and essential village management tool

We were talking with Comwire IT the other day about our own IT setups and making everything simpler.

We agreed one of the best tools is Microsoft Teams.

It’s a software application to make your life so much easier in working with your often remote ‘team’? We love it and you will too.

It is built into Microsoft 365, formally Office 365, which most of us use (it’s in Microsoft Office Tools).

Microsoft Teams allows you to have a small window open on your desktop to send the equivalent of SMS messages rather than emails to your team members. So it is instantly visible and doesn’t require the formality of an email.

Think about these situations:

  • You simply want to ask if the gardeners have arrived
  • You have teams that may need to share or access resident or service provider contact lists when not onsite – send a Teams message
  • You need to collaborate on the formulation of a policy or would benefit from sharing the same document management systems – chat back and forth

This can all be done simply with Teams.

Like all technologies, there are some additional really good things that can be done with Teams.

The best idea is to have a specialist come in and review your systems and get you ‘match fit’ with your technology.

We are now supporting Comwire IT because they specialise in our sector.

They understand that technology isn’t your core business – people are.

It’s the tips that can make a big difference on how software works. Here is a one or two that COMWIRE IT gave us for Teams:

·       Creating a new line and bullet points in a chat message.

Need to create a new line of text in a Teams chat but getting frustrated when you hit the “return” key, it sends your message off to the recipient and you hadn’t finished your conversation?

Hold Shift key and press Return key, it will move you to a new line.

·       Need to create a couple of bullet points in your chat?

Simple shortcut is hit the ‘hyphen / dash key’ and then hit the ‘space bar’

Check out Teams today – you won’t look back.

If you need someone to review your IT system to make your life easier, check out Comwire IT.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments Things to watch

South Australian Retirement Village Act review discussion paper issued​

Late last week the Office of Ageing Well released the 52 page discussion paper as the next step of the Retirement Village Act 2016 review. 

The review is a requirement of the Act, which commenced in 2018.

The RV Act and its regulations, frame the operations of the State’s 534 registered retirement villages, housing around 26,400 people.

The review will consider whether the Act meets its intended objectives, including:

  • clarifying the rights and responsibilities of both operators and residents,
  • enhancing information disclosure requirements,
  • providing tighter definitions, and
  • ensuring sufficient consumer protection.

A two-part discussion paper has been developed to facilitate the review with stakeholders and community members encouraged to provide feedback on the sections that interest them.

The review will also consider other jurisdictions’ retirement village legislation to support the further development of best practice processes in South Australia.

A report on outcomes of the review, including community feedback will be provided to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing for tabling in Parliament later in 2021.

Director for Office of Ageing Well is encouraging all South Australians with an interest in this area to have their say here. 

Submissions close on Friday 26 March 2021 at 5.00pm (ACDT).

The DCM Institute team also encourages South Australian operators to review the discussion paper, interact with their industry peak body or other operators and finally make their own individual submission. 

Your voice will count!